A/N: This implies Partridge had been off his dose for quite a while, which I don't think is true really, but it's better for the story.
Feedback: Makes me happy
He remembers the first day. Burned into his memory, even if he had rather it not. Would rather remember Mary's soft lips and curves, the swirling words of Byron or Keats. Wants to hate that memory, but realizes he can't.
Remembers as he watched him walk into DuPont's office stiffly, eyes straight ahead, the perfect soldier.
"Preston." DuPont had said glancing down at the file in front of him.
His face raised up a fraction of an inch at the address, a crisp "sir" in response.
Partridge remembers the sharpness in his eyes, completely different from any other he had seen. Un-marred by the drug induced effects of Prozium, alert. For a brief moment, he wonders if this man too had ceased his dose. But realizes it was a stupid thing to think.
"Very impressive." DuPont interrupts Partridge's thoughts. "Perfect scores in all academic tests, top ranking in your class. Your work in apprehending sense offenders is astounding for a junior cleric such as yourself."
"It is my job, sir."
DuPont glances to Partridge briefly. "Yes, it is."
The file shuts with an audible noise of clicking steel, and DuPont rests his chin in his hands, appraising, studying, thinking. Partridge remembers that too.
"We've been following your career, Preston. We believe assignment with Cleric Partridge would be in your best interests. And ours. Do you understand, Preston?"
He remembers when their eyes met.
"I am being promoted, sir."
DuPont's lips had turned up slightly. "Yes you are. They did say you were intuitive."
It's a joke, but none of the men standing catch its meaning. Except Partridge, unsure if DuPont knew what it was supposed to mean either.
Preston obviously misses it, and answers "Sir."
Partridge stands straight, stiff. Attempting to be perfect but knows its impossible.
"You are dismissed, Cleric. You'll receive your assignment first thing tomorrow."
He remembers John Preston clicking his heels, and turning. But glancing back at him before so quickly its hard to catch.
Errol was never used to people calling him by his given name. He remembers hating the odd feeling he got when someone would call him unthinkingly, acquaintances from the monastery or newfound lovers. When Mary called his name, teasing in her voice or in a moment of passion, he stiffened. She noticed, but never said a word.
He liked to think he loved her. If he could truly grasp what that meant, but isn't sure he can. Words have new meaning when he can feel, and some are not entirely pleasant. Others make him afraid of what it implies. Love never fit, and he knows it never will.
He used to think he loved Mary because she was perfect. When he first came off the dose, she was everything, she was life. He remembers when he saw perfection, and he remembers the clawing feel of despair. Of admiration and respect and hatred of something he could never be. Because he isn't kidding himself, he isn't perfect.
Preston came to him that morning in the office. Standing still, face impassive. His hand stretched out in a gesture of greeting and friendship, Partridge supposed. He was sure the other man liked to think that, but he didn't know the true meanings of words like Partridge did. Or at least thought he did.
"Errol Partridge. I'm John Preston, it is a pleasure to meet you." His voice pronounces each syllable in an annunciated tone, and Partridge doesn't hate his name in this moment. The handshake is firm. "I look forward to working with you, with my recent promotion. I only hope I will live up to the expectation."
Partridge nods, "I'm sure you will."
Partridge remembers as his new partner casually disposes of human beings. The way he ducks and spins with his firearms exactly as he was taught. Maximum efficacy. Killing in perfection.
And he hates him in that moment, hates and admires him. Cant find the strength within himself to condemn him because he doesn't understand , does he? Doesn't know what it meant to take a life. Partridge had taken his share, with and without the numbing. Perhaps he is worse than Preston could ever be. Because he knows he isn't perfect. Yet he tries to be anyway.
He nods to his new partner instead. "Good work Preston." And it seems Preston is pleased with this small admission, surprising. Partridge knows this man can't feel, but it seems he does, and its baffling. Perfection doesn't contradict.
So he watches his partner make his name. Remembers when he tells Partridge about the birth of his daughter, and those sharp eyes soften. Remembers realizing a friendship, even though he doesn't want it. He isn't worthy of it. Realizes this man could never be what he wanted him to be as he watched coldly while his wife was burned in front of him.
Partridge knows he let go too much. He trusted and cared too much. As he sits in the comforting silence of a church long ago broken, he contemplates. Understands he can do that now, that he deserved it. Yeats is clutched in his hands, and he reads without a mind to, because he can't help but remember.
Boots crunch the ground and he doesn't look up. Because its only fitting, he thinks, that he should meet his end in the face of perfection.